The Holy Scriptures By Henry Nabea Abstract This paper has two sections, section 2:1, and section 2:2. Section one investigates the development of the New Testament canon as presented by Metzger Bruce in his book, The Canon of the New Testament. The investigation involves analysis of the religious and socio-political factors that necessitated the need for the early Church to determine the correct New Testament Canon…
The section ends with a detailed development of three topics from the Dei Verbum. How did the Church settle on the 27 books of the New Testament? The early Church was prompted to come up with the 27 books of the New Testament by a number of factors. These factors were of, religious, socio-political, or cultural nature. A combination of these factors compelled the early Church leaders, as it were, to come up with the list of authentic and authoritative books in the New Testament. These factors are: Gnosticism: This was a sect of heretical believers who posed a great challenge to the early Christians on the teachings of the church. The central view of the Gnostic scholars was that, the elect souls are divine sparks temporarily imprisoned in the physical bodies as a result of precosmic catastrophe, and as such, these souls have a natural knowledge (gnosis) of their origin and destiny, and this natural knowledge will lead them to salvation. As it can be deduced from this position, for the Gnostics, there was absolutely no need of an authoritative body of knowledge or traditions that would serve as a condition for salvation. Some of the Gnostic scholars were, Basilides, Carpocrates, and Valentinus and Marcion. The early Christians, therefore, had to come up with an authoritative body of knowledge that contained the teachings of their founder, JesusChrist, and the apostles, that would serve as a guide for their followers and that would enlighten the Christians against the heresies and the fallacies of the Gnostics. Montanism was another heretical religious sect that prompted the formation of the New Testament in the early centuries of Christianity. This Christian movement was a charismatic movement that claimed to be a religion of the Holy Spirit, and it was marked by ecstatic outbursts. This sect claimed that this kind of ecstatic outbursts was the only true form of Christianity. To counter this heretical movement and its teachings, the early church came had to come up with correct teachings of the Church which would act as a guide for its adherents. This led to the formation of the 27 books in the New Testament. Apart from the heretical teachings that precipitated the need for the formulation of the authoritative teachings of the Church, another phenomenon in form of persecution of Christians, further, necessitated the need for the articulation of the authoritative teachings of the Church based on the teachings of Jesus Christ and the apostles. When the imperial police started persecuting the Christians and demanding from the the teachings of Christianity, it became necessary for the Christians of the early Church to determine the correct teachings of Christianity, from a myriad of other teachings that claimed to be the true teachings of Jesus Christ and the apostles. This circumstance, therefore, led to the formation of the 27 books of the New Testament that constitute the authoritative teachings of the Church. Settling on the 27 books in the New Testament Having been influenced by the above factors, the early Church set out to assemble the Christian books that contained the authentic teachings of Christianity. And to distinguish between the authentic and the inauthentic Christian books, the Church employed four guidelines (How the New Testament Canon was Formed, online). These guidelines ...
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